The Hawkeyes were on a five-game winning streak as one of the hottest teams in the nation but were shocked in a 12-point upset against the Indiana Hoosiers in their previous outing.
Meanwhile, the Fighting Illini had a strong performance in their last game, with a 14-point victory over Penn State.
Fixture: Iowa Hawkeyes vs Illinois Fighting Illini - NCAA Men's Basketball
Date & Time: Friday, January 29th, 2021, 9 PM ET
Venue: State Farm Center, Champaign, Illinois
Iowa Hawkeyes Preview
The Iowa Hawkeyes suffered just their third loss of the season last Thursday as they were upset by the Indiana Hoosiers, 81-69. They put up their lowest point total of the season and shot a shocking 21.7% from three.
The offense was stagnant. We're better than that.
Garza is right. They are better than that. The Hawkeyes came into the game against the Hoosiers ranked second in the nation for total points scored, averaging 92.2 per game.
The loss pushed the Hawkeyes 1.5 games out of first place in the Big Ten conference. If they are to bounce back and knock off the competitive Illinois Fighting Illini, they will need to regain their offensive rhythm.
Key Player - Luka Garza
The best player on the Iowa Hawkeyes and arguably the best player in college basketball is Luka Garza.
The senior center is averaging a team-leading 26.9 points and 8.9 rebounds on 61% shooting. His play this season has him being looked at as a potential prospect in the 2021 NBA draft.
Garza will have his hands full battling up against the talented frontcourt of the Illinois Fighting Illini. Still, if he can maintain his season averages on Friday night, the Hawkeyes will earn their fourth road win of the season.
Iowa Hawkeyes Predicted Lineup
C Luka Garza, G Jordan Bohannon, G Connor McCaffery, G CJ Frederick, G Joe Wieskamp
Illinois Fighting Illini Preview
The Illinois Fighting Illini looked strong in their previous victory over the Penn State Nittany Lions, 79-65. The win prevented the Fighting Illini from suffering their third straight loss.
The key to getting back on track was the team's increased energy and ability to get off to a fast start. Here is what senior guard, Trent Fraizer, told ESPN in the post-game press conference,
Everyone played their butts off out there tonight. From the opening minute, you could just feel the energy out there.
If the Ilinois Fighting Illini can once again come out full of energy from the opening tip and slow down the Iowa Hawkeyes offense, they will once again be considered as one of the teams to beat in the Big Ten.
Key Player - Kofi Cockburn
Kofi Cockburn gave the Illinois Fighting Illini the boost they needed to bounce back against Penn State. He recorded a game-high 21 points and 12 rebounds in the victory.
What was most impressive from the sophomore center in the win over Penn State was his ability to get to the free-throw line. He drew 10 fouls and went 9-of-13 from the charity stripe.
If the Illinois Fighting Illini are to come away with a win on Friday night over the higher-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes, Cockburn will need to build off his performance from his previous outing and win his matchup over Luka Garza.
Illinois Fighting Illini Predicted Lineup
F Jacob Grandison, C Kofi Cockburn, G Trent Frazier, G Ayo Dosunmu, G Adam Miller
Iowa vs Illinois Prediction
The Iowa Hawkeyes and the Illinois Fighting Illini are likely to have a closely contested matchup on Friday night.
However, the Iowa Hawkeyes will bounce back and display their normal offensive dominance leading them to a win over their conference rival. Iowa ranks number one in offensive efficiency with 124.4 points per 100 possession, via Kenpom.com.
Expect Luka Garza to continue his dominance and display another 20+ point outing and win his matchup over Kofi Cockburn.
Where to watch Iowa vs Illinois
The game will be broadcast live on Fox Sports One (FS1).